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Four Thirds User
17th June 2009, 08:22 PM
Four Thirds User (Fourthirds-user.com (http://fourthirds-user.com)) is a sibling site to the e-group.

Read our detailed hands-on first impressions review of the Olympus Pen E-P1 based on a days shooting with the new Micro Four Thirds system camera.

More... (http://fourthirds-user.com/2009/06/olympus_pen_ep1_initial_handson_review.php)

Zuiko
17th June 2009, 10:34 PM
It's exciting, it looks great and I absolutely love the styling, both in silver and white. I would really, really love to own this camera.

So, will I buy one? NO! I'm afraid not!

WHY?

Rather naively I expected the camera to be a bit smaller than it is, particularly without viewfinder or flash which doesn't actually bother me at all. O.K., it's substantially smaller than a DSLR but it still won't slip into a pocket. You would still need to hang it round your neck or have a waist pouch and therefore may as well have an E620.

The whole point, for me, in having a small camera like this would be to use it with a compact prime lens. 17mm is not a bad choice but wouldn't be my preferred option. Also, I'm disappointed to hear there is a question over the sharpness of this lens, particularly as Olympus have a heritage of outstanding quality small primes. Ian suggests it may be due to the pancake design, but the OM 40mm f2 had legendary sharpness. In fact, I was hoping for an MFT equivalent of this lens, a 20mm f2, plus a wide angle of around 10mm to 12mm.

Then there is the question of price. I know it bears the premium of a new product, but at this sort of money it's hardly going to open the floodgates of people wishing to step up from a compact and even an avid Oly user like me will find it hard to justify.

I predict that this camera will be a success and may even achieve cult status but I cannot see it selling in anything like the volumes needed to make it a commercial success upon which Olympus can base its future financial security.

Hopefully this is just the start of something big (the concept is sound) and hopefully more attractively priced cameras with better primes (and more of them) will follow. In the meantime it still leaves me looking for a slip in the pocket and take anywhere compact something like the Ricoh GX100.

Thank, Ian, for a really informative review. I know you're having a really busy week but I hope you're enjoying it too!

R MacE
18th June 2009, 11:54 AM
I liked the appearance initially but the more I see the more it looks a bit plasticky, I think Black would have been a better bet or at least mainly black with a silver top/bottom cover. I'm not sure about the lack of EVF, I've recently been using a Panasonic FX-150 and find it ok most of the time just using the main LCD. Olympus need to take a look at the build quality of Panasonic cameras, the FX-150 is a gem, really solid and almost Leicalike in Black. A prime doesn't interest me really, I need a fast reasonably wide (28mm min, 24mm better) short zoom with minimal distortion as my intended use is for backpacking. Again for my needs a built in flash would probably be better. The video feature is something that I would use. Personally I think the G1/lens is a much better set-up but unfortunately not as cute or compact. I think the EP-1 looks better with the Black lens, really dislike the silver pancake, way too plasticky looking on a camera at that price.

The contenders for me are still the G1/GH1 or LX-3. I'll probably wait a bit longer to see if Olympus release a higher spec model, what would worry me is that Panasonic seem to have the better AF system but Olympus haven't/couldn't use it, Panasonic also have a pretty good EVF in the G1 but will Olympus be able to use it or make one as good or better?

In truth if Panasonic produced a more compact G1 by changing the form from SLR style to rangefinder style (DMC-LX1) while still retaining the EVF the EP-1would be dead in the water.

I feel that the EP-1 misses the mark in too many areas to be seen as an alternative to a DSLR for semi serious use, doesn't match the spec of the G1 and isn't likely to attractive to those wishing to move up from a compact/bridge as it's overpriced compared to the lower end DSLR's.

I was concerned right from the start and posted to the effect that the Olympus m4/3rds camera wouldn't live up to the hype and IMO it hasn't, I can't think of one area where you wouldn't be better served by a G1 a DSLR or even a compact like the LX-3.

michaelavis
18th June 2009, 12:41 PM
I can't think of one area where you wouldn't be better served by a G1 a DSLR or even a compact like the LX-3.

That's my conclusion too. I have the Leica D-LUX 4 ("posh" LX-3) and until recently an E420 and really hoped that the new Oly would give me the carry-everywhere of the Leica along with the image quality potential of the E-420 in one appealing system. I sold the E420 in anticipation and thought the Leica would be on eBay as soon as Amazon or SRS could sell me an E-P1.

Assuming I'm a relatively typical target as somebody who's prepared to pay a premium for style, form factor, performance and function in a camera they can carry everywhere, I feel that it's too expensive, no built-in flash for a carry-everywhere isn't good, no-EVF should have been compensated for by a lovely 460k screen like the G1/LX-3/D-LUX have all got, it's only small enough with the pancake and like so many others have said, a mainly black body option would have been great.

Cold analysis says keep the Leica and see what the next year brings from Oly, maybe something smaller (probably not) or something only a little larger but fixes the annoyances above with an EVF too. That really would be compelling. As compelling as an E-3 replacement would be with the sensor/image processing engine the E-P1 has got, 6.5fps and a 3" 960k LCD would be :D.

That said, it does seem to be the kind of product that once you see it in the flesh, pick it up, use it, you just have to have it! Maybe it's Oly's iPod moment.

EH1
18th June 2009, 01:16 PM
I think it`s a very good product, however the price just kills it!:eek:

R MacE
18th June 2009, 01:59 PM
I know it isn't a production version (I hope it isn't) but the AF appears to be suspect.

quote Olympus recommends using single action AF with manual over ride (S-AF + MF) mode, and I'd concur. Press the shutter button let the lens focus, then turn the focus ring slightly, triggering the magnified critical focus mode, make your slight adjustment for correct focus, and then shoot.

Not good without a viewfinder, trying to hold the camera steady enough to critically focus a magnified view with e.g. the 70-300 must be nigh on impossible. That effectively means that whether it can use E-System lenses or not is irrelevant never mind legacy lenses.

I simply don't get the point of clip on Viewfinders and external flashguns on a camera aimed at........................

................ come to think of it, who is it aimed at? Olympus talk about people wanting to trade up from a compact but why would they choose the EP-1 over a G1 or entry level DSLR, size can't be a factor, the G1 is close enough and the lack of flash is sure to be an issue considering the only cameras that don't have one are PRO level DSLR's.

Size wise it's too big considering it hasn't got a VF or in built flash but it needn't have been much bigger to incorporate both an EVF and flash. If you need to carry a viewfinder for every prime lens and an external flashgun (of course you can't use both at the same time) it'll end up taking up more space than the G1 with significantly reduced useability. If the truth be told the main criticism levelled at the G1 is that it looks like a bridge/DSLR nut that should be easier to sort. Hopefully Panasonic will fill the void that Olympus have thus far failed to fill.

Look at the E-300/330, imagine if you removed the grip and used the smaller battery, then made the lens mount smaller and removed the mirror box, would it be significantly bigger than the EP-1 and would the size trade off be worth the vastly improved useability? IMO it's an emphatic yes.

The good news is that the EP-1 is here and is only the start, there are more advanced models on the way although it's likely to be another year before they are released. As it is it looks like Olympus decided to trade on the Pen and were prepared to go to any length to achieve that goal regardless of the cost in terms of practicality or performance.

Ian
19th June 2009, 01:18 PM
I know it isn't a production version (I hope it isn't) but the AF appears to be suspect.

quote Olympus recommends using single action AF with manual over ride (S-AF + MF) mode, and I'd concur. Press the shutter button let the lens focus, then turn the focus ring slightly, triggering the magnified critical focus mode, make your slight adjustment for correct focus, and then shoot.

Not good without a viewfinder, trying to hold the camera steady enough to critically focus a magnified view with e.g. the 70-300 must be nigh on impossible. That effectively means that whether it can use E-System lenses or not is irrelevant never mind legacy lenses.

I simply don't get the point of clip on Viewfinders and external flashguns on a camera aimed at........................

................ come to think of it, who is it aimed at? Olympus talk about people wanting to trade up from a compact but why would they choose the EP-1 over a G1 or entry level DSLR, size can't be a factor, the G1 is close enough and the lack of flash is sure to be an issue considering the only cameras that don't have one are PRO level DSLR's.

Size wise it's too big considering it hasn't got a VF or in built flash but it needn't have been much bigger to incorporate both an EVF and flash. If you need to carry a viewfinder for every prime lens and an external flashgun (of course you can't use both at the same time) it'll end up taking up more space than the G1 with significantly reduced useability. If the truth be told the main criticism levelled at the G1 is that it looks like a bridge/DSLR nut that should be easier to sort. Hopefully Panasonic will fill the void that Olympus have thus far failed to fill.

Look at the E-300/330, imagine if you removed the grip and used the smaller battery, then made the lens mount smaller and removed the mirror box, would it be significantly bigger than the EP-1 and would the size trade off be worth the vastly improved useability? IMO it's an emphatic yes.

The good news is that the EP-1 is here and is only the start, there are more advanced models on the way although it's likely to be another year before they are released. As it is it looks like Olympus decided to trade on the Pen and were prepared to go to any length to achieve that goal regardless of the cost in terms of practicality or performance.

Just to make it clear, the S-AF + MF recommendation is for use with Four Thirds lenses and the mount adapter where the lens is not optimised for Live View AF. Optimised lenses include: 14-42, 40-150 mk2, 70-300 (after firmware upgrade), 25mm pancake, 9-18, etc.) Non optimised: all SWD lenses, all Top Pro lenses old 14-54, old 50-200, old 40-150, 11-22, 50 macro, etc. None of these lenses can be autofocused at all on Panasonic G-series mFT bodies, but they can on the E-P1, though pinpoint accurate focus can't be guaranteed, hence the MF check recommendation. Live View optimised lenses AF normally.

Hope that clears things up.

Ian

R MacE
19th June 2009, 02:09 PM
Thanks Ian, that sounds a bit more promising.

I still think the G1 is a better System foundation than the EP-1, the EP-1 has drawn praise for it looks/style rather than performance/usability while generally speaking the only criticism of the G1 was it's appearance. As someone else mention there's likely to be little difference on packed size between them and when you're using it it won't matter much what it looks like.